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Any Need For Mega Party In Nigeria?

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Recently, a political party platform met under the aegis of National Political Summit Group (NPSG) with a common resolution to work towards the realisation of a mega party in Nigeria.
 The essence and objective of a mega party is to eliminate the current proliferation of political parties in Nigeria and possibly have two political party system.
 Presently, Nigeria has 55 registered political parties and about 25 of these political parties are jostling for a mega party.
 Proponents of the mega party argue that the move will provide good governance, economic prosperity and social justice to the downtrodden citizens of Nigeria. Proponents of a mega party in Nigeria include Chief Olu Falae, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Ayo Adebanyo, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Chief Fredrick Fasheun,  Chief Dapo Sarumi and Alhaji Balarabe Musa.
 Others are Dr. Usman Bugaje, national secretary of the Action Congress (AC), Mr. Sule Hammah representing the Buhari Organisation (TBO) and Mujahidine Asari Dokubo among others.
 However, Nigerians may be tempted to ask whether this group of prominent Nigerians have critically evaluated the problems of mega party and why the need to merge these political parties. Does the law regulating the registration of political parties in Nigeria through the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) permit such merger?
 The spokesperson of the National Political Summit Group and former Minister of Information, Chief Dapo Sarumi noted that the proposed political platform would not be merger of existing registered political parties, neither would it be an alliance of parties, but entirely a new political party bound with a common ideology of good governance and social justice. According to him, the planned mega party will comprise  leaders and political parties with progressive ideology, working towards a new Nigeria to reflect the wishes of the Nigerian people.
 Former Lagos State Governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande who is also the national chairman of one of the registered political parties, Action Party of Nigeria (APN), said the progressives were coming together to form the mega party in Nigeria to give the nation a clear-cut direction to good life and good governance.
 He explained that the mega party had become imperative because the ruling Peoples Democratic Party had allegedy failed to provide credible leadership to Nigerians, stressing that the nation needed a sense of direction to stop the attendant daily suffering of Nigerians.
 However, judging from historical perspectives, the history of mergers and alliances in Nigeria’s political development is always bright with prospects, but devoid of a common strategic objective to achieve the mega party dream.
 In the Second Republic, despite several moves among the then defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP) and Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) to fuse together into a mega party with a common view to wresting political power from the then ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN), such move met a political end.
 Although the parties and their leaders succeeded in evolving a political platform, the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA),  the leaders of the two political parties, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo failed to agree and reach a compromise on who should step down for the other.
 In the end, the plan fell and all retreated to their respective political parties to contest the 1983 presidential elections. The irreconcilable differences  among the United Progressive Grand Alliance paved way for the then ruling NPN to be returned as the winner of the presidential elections.
 In the same vein, the fusion of the All Peoples Party (APP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD) which succeeded in fielding Chief Olu Falae as the presidential flagbearer of the APP/AD accord did not achieve the target. The political marriage collapsed immediately after the 1999 presidential election in which Chief Olusegun Obasanjo of PDP won the election.
 Again, the alliance talks between the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Action Congress (AC) did not achieve meaningful result as the two presidential candidates, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) in the 2007 presidential elections did not agree to step down for each other, and the dream of the opposition parties to present one single candidate in the presidential election of 2007 suffered a setback.
 Against this background, Nigerians are doubtful if the proposed mega party will succeed considering the various political parties involved in the merger philosophy and inclinations.
 Unfortunately, some of the advocates of the mega party have pulled out before the fruition of the idea. A crack visibly noticeable within the proponents of the mega party was the declaration by the leadership of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) that it was not in the mega party. The PPA leadership said “the party is not for mega party, we are for electoral alliance”. The party further said “we are supporting any talk which can make the opposition cohesive and strong and not to lose our identity with the merger of political parties”.
 In the same vein, another political party, Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) also denied being a party to the mega party’s idea. The CDC’s national chairman, Madu Edozie clearly distanced his party from the formation of the mega party.  Even more is the fact that the Action Congress leadership is divided on the desirability of the mega party.
 There is indication that some strong forces in the camp of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar have refused to drop Action Congress for the mega party.
 But, according to an opposition Action Congress (AC) member in Rivers State, Hon. Shadrack Tetenmi-Lebari, the issue of mega party was the best move which would checkmate the excesses of the ruling party, wondering where the interest of the promoters of mega party actually lay.
 Mr Shadrack added that Nigerians were ready to contribute to the mega party formation on the condition that there was transparency on  the part of the mega party proponents.
 However, the mega party may face some hurdles  with the electoral body as the law regulating the registration of political parties does not permit the registration of a mega party. Registered political parties are allowed by law to maintain their individual identity for financial grant from the nation’s electoral body.
 Nigerians are eagerly waiting to see the future of the mega party formation.

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Omo-Agege Initiates Electoral Act 2010 Amendment Bill

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Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege on Monday said, he had introduced a bill for comprehensive amendment of the Electoral Act No. 6 of 2010.
Omo-Agege said this at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room Stakeholders Forum on Elections, organised by the coalition of more than 70 civil societies in Abuja.
He said the bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Abubakar Kyari of Borno North Senatorial District, was now making its way to public hearing, having scaled Second Reading with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate.
“It is a decisive response to a plethora of our Supreme Court’s decision inviting the National Assembly to make sensible amendments to the Electoral Act.
“And I believe it is responsible for us to take the apex court’s constructive guidance on issues that fundamentally affect our democracy.
“This apart, Section 153 of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, specifically and expressly empowers INEC to “issue regulations, guidelines, or manuals for the purpose of giving effects to the provisions of this Act and for its administration thereof.
“The pervasive non-compliance with the Guidelines, Regulations and Manuals, would carry clear consequences for people who think violating electoral due process is a rewarding exercise.
“The proposed Bill to amend the Electoral Act would focus on resolving issues surrounding INEC’s introduction of modern technologies into the electoral process, particularly accreditation of voters.’’
Omo-Agege said that the bill would also mandate INEC to publish the Voters’ Register for public scrutiny at every Registration Area and on its website, at least seven days before a general election.
According to him, it also mandates INEC to suspend an election in order to allow a political party that loses its candidate before or during an election to conduct a fresh primary to elect a replacement.
He said the bill would grant agents of political parties the right to inspect original electoral materials before the commencement of election, define over-voting to include situations where “total votes cast also exceed total number of accredited voters’’.
According to the lawmaker, it also provides greater clarity and transparency in the process of reaching the final announcement of election results, starting with sorting of ballots, counting of votes among others.
Omo-Agege said the bill would mandate INEC to record and keep relevant detailed information of results sheets, ballot papers and other sensitive electoral materials used in an election, with clear consequences for violation.
He said the bill also provided sanctions for giving false information on registration of a political party, and that failure by INEC and others to comply with any provision of the Act carried clear and adequate sanctions.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who was represented by Mr Festus Okoye, Chairman Information and Voter Education, said the Commission was committed to electoral reforms that would strengthen the power and value of the vote.
Yakubu said the Commission would work assiduously with critical stakeholders in the electoral process in providing clarity, removing ambiguities, plugging existing lacuna in laws and constitutionally implementing those aspects of the law that guaranteed the credibility of elections.
“The Commission will definitely send its proposals to the National Assembly to clearly state aspects of the existing Law it supports, aspects that need further retooling, and new proposals that will strengthen the electoral process and the regulatory functions of the Commission.’’
Mr Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was committed to tackling electoral fraud and violence through the establishment of an Electoral Offences Commission.
Malami who was represented by Ms Juliet Ibekaku, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Ethics and Justice, said the government was already working with the 9th National Assembly with a view to ensuring an early passage of amendments to the Electoral Act and the Election Offences Commission Bill into law.
Earlier, Mr Clement Nwankwo, Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, said the objective of the event was to discuss the current state of the electoral environment in the country.
Nwankwo said it also aimed to make recommendations and suggestions that would improve the political and electoral process in Nigeria.
“We believe INEC has the responsibility to be a key driver of the much needed change in the electoral sector,’’ he added.

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‘We Are Confident Jonathan Won’t  Defect To  APC’

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last Monday said it was confident that former President Goodluck Jonathan will not dump the party for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), no matter the amount of pressures piled on him to do so.
Speaking with newsmen  a member of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC), who spoke on condition of anonymity said while they were aware of the scheming by the APC to lure the former President into its fold, it was confident that Jonathan will never leave the PDP.
He said the former president took the decision to support Lyon based on “personal reasons owing to the disagreement he had with Governor Dickson and not because of his interest in joining the APC”.
“ Yes, we have heard about it too. But we are not sleeping over it at all. We know former President Jonathan as a very loyal party man and one of the pillars of our great party. We are confident he will not join the APC no matter how they try to convince him.
“ I don’t want to go into details but from what we witnessed in the Bayelsa election, the people are not happy with the candidate anointed by Governor Dickson who was the candidate of the PDP. If that is the decision of Bayelsans, then I think the former president who  is a tested democrat will align with that decision, irrespective of where the candidate the people wants comes from”.
Also speaking with our correspondent on whether the PDP has taken any action against Jonathan over his role in the party’s loss during the Bayelsa governorship election, the party’s National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan,said he was not aware if any letter was written by the party to the former President.
Ologbondiyan, who said there is no case concerning Jonathan at the national level said as a member of the Bayelsa state chapter of the party, if the former president had committed any wrongdoing, it was the state chapter of the party that will bring the report to the national level for action.
That, according to him nothing has not been done as at Monday.
“ I will have to ask the National Secretary  if  that was done because I am not the one that will write the letter.  We are concerned about the loss of our party.
“Right now, there is no issue before us concerning the former President. The PDP is procedural. We work with procedures.  If there were issues  in a particular state, the state chapter will have to bring the issue before the national body before  any action can be taken. That is the procedure”  he said.

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‘Violence Not Option For Transformation Of Nigeria’

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United States.-based Human Rights Movement, the A.D. King Foundation, yesterday, advised Nigerian youths not to lose hope in the transformation of Nigeria, saying  violence should not be an option.
The Chief Executive Officer of the foundation, Prof. Babs Onabanjo, made the submission in an interview with newsmen in Lagos.
Onabanjo said that the change the youths desired could be achieved in a non-violent form, a campaign that the foundation had been pursuing.
“It is sad that Nigerian youths have been asking questions which seems there are not answers to, but the fact is that the answer is no in one person’s hand to provide.
“If there is crisis or the crisis persists, what we should do is to seek for the solution and I am sure that there is hope for Nigeria.
“Our young leaders must have hope and not resort to violence; they should know that the hope will be challenged by their sacrifice and commitment to being good and doing the right thing.
“It is essential for the leaders to have followers, therefore, they must have integrity and influence.
“They must be able to communicate and persuade people in a reasonable way without resorting to violence,” he said.
Onabanjo said that some countries in the world had achieved greatness out of their problems without resorting to violence, a virtue Nigerian youths should emulate.
“Dr Martin Luther King said “Peace is not an absence of conflict, but the presence of Justice where there is no justice, there won’t be peace.
“The change our youths so desire can be achieved without violence because violence will not bring the right result, the youths need to appeal to other consciences to get result.
“The Civil Right Movement in the U.S., did not achieve their results through violence.
Also the Berlin Walls crumbled without violence.
So also the Apartheid regime in South Africa collapsed without shooting a gun.
“We should not lose hope yet although things seem not right, we should concentrate and believe that we will get it right; also our youths should engage the leaders constructively and positively”, he said.
A.D. King Foundation Inc., is a non-violent conflict resolution entity formed to revolutionise the mindset, attitude and behaviour that engages violence and war with non-violent principles, methods and direct actions.
The mission is to promote youth empowerment, development and non-violent social change strategies as a way of life throughout the world.

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